Nine Ways You’re Losing Business (part 9)

Welcome to part 9 of a 10-part series, Nine Ways You’re Losing Business—and What to Do About It 

Reason No. 8: You’re marketing your practice using someone else’s plan.

Law schools rarely teach students how to market (or manage) a law practice. So most lawyers learn by reading articles, attending training, and—most commonly—following the example set by a successful mentor. However, every person brings different skills, assets, and attitudes to both marketing and practice.

If you’re using a plan created by someone who’s significantly different from you, even a plan that’s been highly successful for that person won’t be successful for you. Every person brings a unique set of skills and assets to be used in marketing as well as preferences that must be accommodated, at least to some extent. In addition, every ideal client profile will be slightly different. No two plans will be identical, and even remarkably similar plans will probably be executed in distinct ways.

I once worked with Sarah, a lawyer who had built a thriving practice, and I thought I’d follow her lead so I could get the same results. Unlike me, Sarah was a social butterfly. She entertained frequently and met contacts for a meal or coffee most every day. She seemed to know everyone: when we went out to lunch, I felt as if we were having lunch with the whole restaurant because it seemed that she spoke to almost everyone there. Sarah was well known in the community, she met many potential clients who subsequently hired her, and she had a steady flow of referrals.

I tried to model Sarah’s networking activity. I laid great plans, but I dreaded executing them. Unlike Sarah, I’m an introvert, and the thought of that much socializing was simply exhausting. I made an effort, but it was too easy to get sidetracked with work (pressing or otherwise) because I didn’t enjoy that volume of activity, and so I didn’t get anything remotely close to Sarah’s results. Sarah’s plan worked for her, but it wasn’t a fit for me, and it wasn’t as effective as the plan I created to incorporate my own personality, preferences, and skills.

The “copycat plan” is destined for failure, as is any plan that doesn’t start with an analysis of the building blocks at your disposal and the objectives you want to reach.
Instead of borrowing someone else’s plan or using a generic plan prescribed by a marketing expert, create your own plan based on the responses to questions such as:

  • Who are you as a practitioner? How do you approach your practice and your clients?
  • What is your marketing identity? What marketing avenues are most effective for that identity?
  • What are the attributes and characteristics of your target clients, and how can you reach them?
  • What are your branding assets?
  • Which relationships should you focus on building?
  • What are your objectives? (For example, do you need to bring in business immediately, do you need to raise your profile in the marketplace, or do you need to position yourself to support a new or expanded practice area?

Use the answers to these questions to design a plan that’s well suited to your specific objectives, that uses your unique skills, and that’s calculated to reach your ideal clients and your network of allies. When your plan is tailored for you, you’ll find it more effective and you’ll be more willing to implement it on a consistent basis.

If you use a generic business development plan copied from another source, you’re losing business.

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